Update today to prevent hacking

ipad and iphoneThose of us who love our Apple devices, for the way they all play together so nicely and are so simple to use, can sometimes be a bit smug about their invulnerability to viruses. (see our earlier post: Happy new mac). That may be true, but it was revealed this week that Apple had ‘seriously dropped the ball’ on security and that iPhones and iPads running the iOS 7 operating system and laptops running OS X have been vulnerable to hacking.

This meant that if you were browsing the Internet when out and about, hackers could potentially intercept your personal and security information on its way to various websites, such as banking sites or Facebook.

The good news is that Apple has issued software updates for both operating systems, and these have fixed the problem. If you have noticed your Apple computer or mobile device asking you to update the software – do it now! It’s always a good idea to install Apple’s updates when they come out, (see our earlier post:Don’t download that update yet) and this one is really important to protect your online security and prevent identity theft.

If you aren’t sure how to find out whether you have the most up-to-date software, follow these simple steps:

photoOn a mobile device, go to Settings – General – Software Update. Your device will tell you if you need to install the update and will walk you through the steps; the latest version is iOS 7.0.6.

On a laptop, click on the Apple icon in the top left of your screen and go to ‘Software Update’. This will open a new window in which you will see if any updates are available. The latest version is 10.9.2.

Once you’re up-to-date, you can browse the Internet with wild abandon, confident that Apple’s encryption systems will be keeping your information secure.


Scanning on the go

Recently I was out at a local restaurant and wanted to share the menu with a foodie friend. I tried to take a photo of it but it came out really badly so I needed to find another way. I turned to the App store for help, and found the highly reviewed Scanner Pro app for iPhone or iPad.

Having downloaded it to my phone, it was a simple job to take a photo of the menu using the app, the built-in guides found the exact corners for me, chopping off any background bits of table, ‘flattening’ it out and creating a digital version I could keep.


Scanner Pro

Once the menu was scanned I could then email it from the app, or upload it to a number of Cloud storage sites including iCloud, Dropbox or Evernote to be accessed at a later date. If I wanted to, I could also print it directly from my phone to a networked printer another time.

The app is currently half price in the iTunes Store: just £1.99 – although even at full price it is well worth having. 

If you’ve got an Android phone, you won’t be able to use Scanner Pro, but Camscanner is highly rated. It works in much the same way and has all the editing and sharing options too. Even better – it’s free and can be used on iPhones as well. We did a quick comparison of it against Scanner Pro and found that Camscanner has many more editing options, but the image quality of the final scan wasn’t quite as clear.

As usual it seems you get what you pay for – much like the food at the local restaurant – here’s the menu – it was delicious.Scanner pro menu

What’s your Plan B?

BackupFor most people, backing up the computer doesn’t rank high on your to do list, a bit like going for a check-up at the dentist or reviewing your pension. But like those tasks, if you put it off for too long, you could find yourself with a much bigger headache later on.

All computers are susceptible to viruses, damage, theft or simply old age – any of which could result in you losing your library of photos, movies, music and other precious files. So you need a backup. The question is how to back up and to where?

The answer to ‘how to back up’ is best answered by the type of computer you have.

Time Machine1If you’ve got a Mac bought after 2007, you’ll have ‘Time Machine’ as built-in software that lets you save a full copy of everything that’s on your computer to wherever you choose (see below). Time Machine then keeps on looking at your files to see if any have changed, and backs those up too. So if you accidentally delete a file, or you want to go back to an earlier version, you can retrieve it through the Time Machine.

file-history-windows-8If you’ve got a PC running Windows, you’ll also have built-in software – File History in Windows 8, or System Backup in Windows 7 or earlier. These work in a similar way to Apple’s Time Machine – you tell the computer which files you want to back up, where to copy them and how often, and the software will do the rest automatically.

The next question is ‘where’ to store your backup and this is where it can get a bit more complicated. There are 3 main options – CDs or DVDs, external hard drives or the ‘Cloud’.

DVDbackup1. You can use CDs or DVDs to make a single copy of your valuable files and then store them somewhere away from your computer. You’ll need to replace these every few months as you add to your computer library, to keep your backup up-to-date.

hard drive2. External hard drives come in many shapes and sizes. Choose one based on how much storage space you need and your budget. If you’re using Time Machine or Windows backup software, it’s a good idea to have an external hard drive that has at least twice as much space as the data you want to store on it, so that there is room for regular backups.

skydrive3. A ‘Cloud’ backup stores your data ‘offsite’, protecting your files against something like a fire, or theft of your computer. It’s essentially your own space on the Internet. Again, there are hundreds of options for a cloud backup: some are free and included with your computer software (iCloud, SkyDrive), whilst others are free for small amounts of storage and then you can buy more space if you need it (eg Dropbox, just cloud, CrashPlan).

cloudboxThere is another backup solution that combines an external hard drive and the cloud – it’s known as NAS or network attached storage. A NAS device links to your wi-fi so that it can back up more than one computer in the house, and it can act as a central library for your music, movies and photos to be accessed by any device connected to your home network. The  great bonus with some NAS devices is that they also give you access to your files when you are away from home.

Once you’ve decided how and where to back up your files, you can relax, safe in the knowledge that your digital world is protected. We strongly recommend that you have at least one of these solutions in your home; to be doubly safe, use two.